One of the highlights of my recent trip to Kraków was a Trabant tour of Nowa Huta with Maciek Nyzio from Crazy Guides.
Nowa Huta literally means ‘The New Steel Mill’ and was built by the Soviet Union on the eastern outskirts of Kraków as a model proletarian city.
The idea was that Nowa Huta would become a bustling working class enclave and overshadow the more famous bourgeois city centre of Kraków.
It didn’t quite work out that way. Nowa Huta became an anti-communist hub and was a key player in the Solidarity Movement of the 1980s.
Indeed, Maciek told me that when he was baby his mother rested a wet cotton sheet over his cot to protect him from the tear gas that wafted into his family’s apartment.
Perhaps that was what prepared him for a life driving tourists around in his belching, spluttering and temperamental little Trabant.
To be fair, Maciek’s little Trabant started every time he asked it to. And it stopped when it was meant to – albeit a few metres further down the road than a modern car would.
The Trabant proved to be the perfect way to see the city.
Maciek skilfully coaxed it from the Boulevard of Roses and the Centralny Milk Bar to the Steel Mills on the edge of town.
And finally, to an apartment that the Crazy Guides have crammed with Soviet-era furniture and memorabilia to give visitors a technicolor taste of life behind the Iron Curtain.
Soviet chic or Soviet kitsch. I’ll let you decide.
Official Crazy Guides website: crazy guides.com
Official Polish Tourism Organisation website: Poland.travel